22 March 2016

Sci-fi Tropes: Mind over matter...

"We are but dreams amid wanton sleep..." Bloody Mary affiche by binarymind

The fallacy that humans don't utilise the entirety of their brain mass has been dispelled over and over and while what I'm about to delve into is related to that, it's not the whole story...

Sci-fi often depicts advanced races as comprising of super intelligent beings that are able to perform mental gymnastics way beyond our paltry ability. Ignoring, for the moment, those sci-fi universes where embedded circuitry and other shenanigans improve the knowledge and processing power of intelligent beings to god-like levels, it is often assumed that with increasing technological prowess, increasing mental ability is attained.

It's interesting because there is not really any evidence to support this. Humans (specifically Homo sapiens sapiens), are not more intelligent despite our huge and exponentially increasing technological gains over the last two centuries. You can't even argue that we are smarter (with smartness being application of knowledge) because our knowledge base is expanding all the time so application of knowledge will always increase with an increase with available knowledge to draw upon.

7 March 2016

And now for the Gaming Darwin Award...

So, Microsoft announced that they're closing Lionhead Studios (and another studio I've never heard of!). The shocking thing for me isn't that the studios are closing down, but the released statement put out by Microsoft PR:

These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play."

The thing is that Lionhead was purchased with the intent of exploiting their creativity but they never really delivered on that, despite all the tech demos they showcased over the years, in favour of doing what Microsoft says they want to do right here in this press release!!!

 I mean, really!

Fable 1, 2 and 3 where the product of investing in and development of the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play. You know what happened? There was nothing else after that!

It's no surprise that Microsoft wants to close these studios - they're not releasing multi-million unit selling franchises. However, the fact remains that Microsoft have not created any of their multi-million selling franchises, only bought them. The problem here is that, sometimes, you need to invest in new ideas in order to make new franchises that people will want to play. 

As I see it currently, Microsoft have only Halo and Minecraft in their stable... nothing else. This is especially egregious given their "support" of the PC gaming environment, Games for Windows Live, the "integration" of Xbox Live and now the Windows 10 "store" which locks games into its environment.

You reap what you sow... and if you don't sow then you will not... er, reap... I guess.

6 March 2016

Why the phone model won't work for games consoles... [UPDATED]

It was recently revealed by sites such as Eurogamer and Ars Technica that the Xbox One might see hardware upgrades over the coming generation.

While the speculation is that the XBox One itself will itself have varied models with different innards, it has also been pointed out by commentors that Phil could have been referring to a phone-like situation where the new model is more powerful but the games will work across both models with some caveats such as increased texture resolution or post processing power. 

This might look interesting to Microsoft from a business perspective because they might think that they can sell new models to existing customers and have the old models recycled back into the consumer ecosystem with the games remaining with their original owners.